It's no secret: for a variety of reasons, risk-averse college football coaches often schedule weaker opponents in the early part of the season.
And as evidenced by the slate of games for Week 1, nothing has changed on that front in 2012. Whether teams want to pad their non-conference record, or whether coaching staffs want to settle their position battles without the risk of losing a game, there are plenty of contests against unevenly matched teams this weekend.
So as we kick off the college football season, here's a look at six games where the victor will be decided long before the final play.
Hawaii at Southern California
Glass half full: Hawaii head coach Norm Chow was the offensive coordinator at both USC and UCLA, so he should have some idea of what to expect out of the Trojans on Saturday.
Glass half empty: USC is fresh off of probation, and with a BCS championship a real possibility for the first time in three years, the No. 1 team in the nation will come out of the gates on fire.
It'll be pitch-and-catch time for Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and the rest of the USC skill position players. Hawaii has a high-powered offense in its own right, but if the Warriors have a 4-cylinder engine, then the Trojans are working with a V12.
Prediction: USC 49, Hawaii 17
Buffalo at Georgia
For all intents and purposes, this matchup between Georgia and Buffalo should be over around halftime. The Bulldogs, who are led by quarterback Aaron Murray, are talented enough to make a run at an SEC East Division title this year. Buffalo, meanwhile, has won a total of five games over the past two years.
Murray is in the perfect spot to make a strong case for the Heisman this weekend: he's thrown for more than 3,000 yards in each of his first two seasons at Georgia, and he'll be well on his way to a third stellar campaign after his team rolls Buffalo on Saturday.
Prediction: Georgia 48, Buffalo 10
Arkansas State at Oregon
Against Arkansas State, the Ducks will be starting a freshman quarterback for the first time in 21 years. It won't matter all that much.
Marcus Mariota may be taking the snaps under center, but it will be RB Kenjon Barner that will pace the Oregon offensive attack. Between Barner and the Ducks' jack-of-all-trades talent De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon will keep the scoreboard operators at Autzen Stadium busy well into the night.
For what it's worth, the Red Wolves are the defending Sun Belt champions, and their passing attack was 16th in the nation last year. But unless they can hang 40 on the Ducks, they have little chance of making the final score respectable.
Prediction: Oregon 51, Arkansas State 17
North Texas at LSU
It says something when the quarterback whose team is favored by 43 points is a junior who has thrown exactly 11 passes in his collegiate career. Quite simply, LSU is on a completely different level than the North Texas Mean Green.
Despite the hype surrounding 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu, Tigers DB Tharold Simon is a much better cover corner than the "Honey Badger." North Texas QB Derek Thompson is decent, but against a ball-hawking LSU defense, don't be surprised to see the Tigers take one or two interceptions to the house on Saturday.
The Mean Green was shut out 41-0 by Alabama last year—this game should follow pretty much the same pattern.
Prediction: LSU 44, North Texas 6
San Jose State at Stanford
No Andrew Luck? No Coby Fleener? No problem for a Stanford team that should easily dispatch San Jose State this weekend.
With Luck at the helm last year, the Cardinal beat the Spartans 57-3. Don't expect to see a repeat of that, but Stanford should cover the 24.5-point spread that the oddsmakers have set on the game.
Josh Nunes won the quarterback battle for the Cardinal, but the team's offense will run largely through senior RB Stepfan Taylor. Taylor racked up 1,330 yards in 2011, and should have his way with a San Jose State run defense that was ranked 101st in the nation last year.
Prediction: Stanford 45, San Jose State 14
Oklahoma at UTEP
Oklahoma's Landry Jones is one of the best quarterbacks on the collegiate level, though he figures to have an abbreviated night's work ahead of him on Saturday. UTEP has never beaten a Big 12 team (0-11), and that doesn't figure to change any time soon.
With Mike Stoops back in charge of the Oklahoma defense, expect the Miners to get more than they can handle on offense. The Sooners have some unfinished business to take care of following last season's 10-3 campaign, and UTEP is the first victim on their road to redemption.
Prediction: Oklahoma 55, UTEP 10
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